The Art of Burger and Beer Pairings
Photo Credit: The Pharmacy Burger

In the heart of Nashville, a culinary maestro named Cees Brinkman has been crafting an unparalleled dining experience at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden. Nestled in the vibrant food scene of Music City, this iconic establishment has become synonymous with innovative burger flavors—including a rotating monthly burger special—and a unique approach to classic American and German fare. One of the secrets to The Pharmacy’s success lies in the artful pairing of burgers and beers, a skill that Cees has perfected over the years.

The Pharmacy Burger prides itself on its beer program, importing brews from around the world that best elevate its house-made sauces, patties, and entrées. Return visitors look forward to sips like crispy Belgium pours and an excellent selection of Oktoberfest beers each fall, most of which can only be tasted in Nashville at The Pharmacy Burger.

The Philosophy Behind Burger and Beer Pairing

For Cees Brinkman, the concept of pairing burgers with beers is more than just a culinary trend; it’s an art form. Each element of the pairing process is carefully considered, from the flavor profile of the burger to the characteristics of the beer. According to Cees, the goal is to create a union in which the flavors of both the burger and the beer enhance and complement each other, resulting in a truly elevated dining experience.

Keep reading to find some starter pairings. Even if you’re not local to Nashville, you can apply this guidance to your favorite neighborhood burger joint or even your homemade creations!

The Philosophy Behind Burger and Beer Pairing
Photo Credit: The Pharmacy Burger

Signature Burgers and Beer Pairings at The Pharmacy Burger

The Farm Burger with a Belgian Witbier:

Description: A succulent beef patty topped with country ham, Gifford’s smoked bacon, an over-easy egg, and a generous drizzle of house-made maple mustard.

Beer Pairing: Cees recommends pairing the Farm Burger with a refreshing Belgian Witbier. The citrusy and spicy notes of the beer cut through the richness and sweetness of the maple mustard sauce and complement the smokiness of the bacon beautifully.

White Oak BBQ Burger with a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout:

Description: A Southern-infused creation featuring a beef patty, house-made Coca-Cola barbecue sauce, smoked barbecue onions, provolone cheese, Gifford’s bacon, crispy onion straws, and pickles.

Beer Pairing: Cees suggests pairing this creation with a robust Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout. The deep, complex flavors of the stout harmonize with the boldness of the barbecue sauce and add a velvety texture to every bite.

The Pharmacy Burger with an American Pale Ale:

Description: The Pharmacy Burger features a beef patty, yellow cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and yellow mustard. It’s a classic for a reason!

Beer Pairing: According to Cees, the quintessential Pharmacy Burger was designed to enjoy with an American Pale Ale. The lightly hoppy bitterness of the ale works well with the richness of the beef and cheese, while the malt backbone enriches the sweetness of the yellow mustard and toppings.

Black Bean Burger with a Citrusy IPA:

Description: A vegetarian, Southwestern-inspired delight comprising a black bean patty, guacamole, pico de gallo, and chipotle avocado aioli.

Beer Pairing: Cees likes to pair the Black Bean Burger with citrusy, tropical IPA. The bright, fruity notes of the IPA enhance the freshness of the avocado and pico, creating a vibrant and satisfying combination.

The Art of Balancing Flavors

The key to a successful burger and beer pairing, Cees explains, lies in balancing flavors. Whether it’s the savory umami of a beef patty or the creamy richness of cheese, each component should be thoughtfully considered in relation to the chosen beer. The goal is to create a synergy where neither the burger nor the beer overpowers the other; instead, they work in tandem to amplify each other.

Tips for Home Burger and Beer Pairings:

For those looking to recreate the Pharmacy Burger experience at home, check out the following tips:

Consider Intensity: Match the intensity of the beer with the flavors of the burger. A robust stout may overwhelm a lighter burger, while a delicate pilsner might get lost when paired with a bold, spicy bite.

Contrast and Complement: Look for flavors that either contrast or complement each other. For example, a hoppy beer can cut through the richness of a fatty burger, while a malty beer can complement caramelized flavors.

Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pairings. The beauty of burger and beer pairings lies in the endless possibilities, so have fun exploring and discovering new combinations.

At the helm of The Pharmacy Burger, Cees Brinkman has added a signature touch to any visit there, by making everything in-house, building a wonderful space for the community to gather, and mastering the art of burger and beer pairings. Through thoughtful consideration of flavors, balancing intensity, and experimenting with combinations, he has created a dining experience that goes beyond the ordinary. The pairings at The Pharmacy Burger showcase the perfect marriage of culinary creativity and craft beer expertise. Cheers to that!